We’re officially into the off-season, with the new League Year less than a month away. Soon enough, we’ll get the draft and mini camps. But before all that, we get free agency. As we careen toward the new league year, I’m looking at five key free agents at QB, RB, WR, and TE. Today, I’m kicking off with five QB-free agents to watch.

Lamar Jackson

Courtesy of Yahoo Sports

About: Jackson was a First-Round pick in 2018 and undoubtedly has the most upside of anyone on this list. He is one of the few quarterbacks taken in the First Round of 2018 that has delivered. In his first two seasons as a full-time starter, Jackson appeared in 15 games each season, leading his team to a 24-6 mark and rushing for more than 1,000 yards each season. For the last two years, the biggest challenge has been his health. He’s played in just 12 games each season, which has capped the Ravens’ ability to make it in the post-season. The team also seems reticent to meet his requests for a contract, which is why he hits the off-season as a free agent. It seems likely the Ravens will use the Franchise Tag on Jackson, but that’s hardly the end of the story. It seems 50/50 at best that he is back in Baltimore in 2023, meaning for teams that can’t draft a franchise player, a trade for Jackson could be the best option to change their fortunes. He’s undoubtedly one of the biggest free agent dominoes at any position, giving him great value in dynasty as well.
Prediction: I think the Ravens franchise Jackson, and he ends up staying with the team, possibly playing on the tag in 2023.

Derek Carr

About: Carr’s time with the Raiders ended on a sour note. He was benched and not even with the team for the final two games of the season. Then he forced the Raiders to release him this off-season rather than waive his no-trade clause to allow his former team to recoup some value. Now, Carr is free to go where he likes, and there’s no shortage of suitors. In nine seasons as a starter, Carr has thrown for 35,222 yards, 217 touchdowns, and 99 interceptions. He’s been solid on the field and for fantasy, giving him appeal for a team that has the pieces in place to compete but lacks a quarterback. We know the Saints and Jets have been among his suitors, but Carr’s likely not in a hurry to make a decision. His dynasty value is left in something of flux until he lands. I still like him as a decent third option in Superflex with some QB2 upside, but he’s not the long-term bet he once was.
Prediction: The Jets are a stout young team with defensive potential and plenty of skill players. I think Carr will end up there as the team hopes for veteran stability at quarterback to get them to the playoffs.

Jimmy Garoppolo

About: Jimmy G. is one of the most interesting options on the list. He’s been a serviceable veteran that’s enjoyed plenty of success as a starter for the 49ers. He went to one Super Bowl and one NFC Championship Game during his time there. He’s also a player that’s got a history of missing time. He was 38-17 as a starter for the 49ers, but he only played one full season. Still, with so many teams looking for quarterbacks this off-season, he’s likely to find a solid landing spot. In terms of dynasty, Jimmy G. feels like a decent 2023 streaming option but not someone who is a good long-term bet, especially given his injury history.
Prediction: I don’t know why, but I think Jimmy G. lands in Tampa Bay as the Bucs try to piece together a post-Tom Brady playoff run.

Geno Smith

About: Smith has had an interesting career. He went into the 2022 season as something of an afterthought, competing with Drew Lock for playing time in Seattle. He ended up as the Comeback Player of the Year for a playoff team. Smith completed nearly 70 percent of his passes, throwing for 4,282 yards, 30 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. It was an incredible performance that makes him an interesting free agent. The Seahawks have expressed interest in having him return, and he’s expressed interest in returning, but also said he wants to test the free-agent market. I think in the right system, Smith could have one or two decent seasons, though it’s fair to believe that 2022 might have been his ceiling. If you’re a re-building dynasty team with young players at the quarterback position, Geno makes for the perfect veteran option.
Prediction: I think Geno goes back to the Seahawks on a two or three-year deal.

Daniel Jones

Courtesy of Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

About: No player improved their NFL and fantasy stock more in 2022 than Jones. He entered the season as a question mark, with the team having declined his fifth-year option. Now, he’s a candidate to get a Franchise Tag. But was 2022 the real Daniel Jones, or was it an aberration thanks to better coaching? Jones set a career-high in completion percentage and passing yardage in 2022, adding 708 rushing yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. He was also QB9 in fantasy. Jones has the most dynasty upside of anyone on this list, possibly even more than Jackson, because he doesn’t have the injury history. But he’s not without risk. He could sign and have five-plus more productive years leading a team. Or it could turn out he can’t replicate his 2022 success. I’d be tempted to sell Jones high this off-season.
Prediction: Jones comes down off his $45 million per year price and re-signs a three-year deal with the New York Giants.

Matthew Fox is a die-hard NFL fan and Broncos’ homer. He’s a member of the FSWA. You can find more from him on Twitter @knighthawk7734 or as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a part of the Campus2Canton Network.

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